The race is on for a COVID-19 vaccine; but opposition exists

The anti-vaccine movement is joining protests against governors' social-distancing efforts.



May 5, 2020 - 10:57 AM

Youngsters Pete Goldsmith and Betsy Schlanger of Iola received their first polio shots in May 1955. Dr. R.O. Christian administered Pete’s shot; Dr. Frank Lenski was with Betsy. The vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas E. Salk virtually ended the icy fear that long had gripped the hearts of parents. Photo by Excerpted from The Chronicles of Allen County: 1945-2000.

If all goes really, really well, we can expect to have a vaccine for COVID-19 sometime in 2021, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Scientists are notably nervous about such predictions because the fastest turnaround for a vaccine to be developed from lab to clinic was four years, when the vaccine for mumps was discovered in 1967. 

Otherwise, vaccines typically require 10-15 years for research and testing. 

The vaccine will mean we can resume our normal activities without fear of contracting the highly contagious virus.

Increasingly, the virus means different things to different people. Some show no signs. Some experience flu-like symptoms. Some succumb. 

Because none of us knows how we would be affected by the virus, it would seem getting the vaccine would be prudent. And perhaps more to the point is that because any of us can be unsuspecting transmitters, it would behoove us to get the vaccine so we don’t unknowingly infect others. 

In our mind, helping create widespread immunity is part of being a good citizen — and very easy to do.

NOT EVERYONE  agrees. At recent  demonstrations protesting various governors’ social-distancing measures are increasingly large contingents of anti-vaxxers — those against vaccines specifically, and against what they perceive as government overreach in general.

Many anti-vaxxers view vaccines as unnatural — and thus harmful — because they include synthetic or “modified” chemicals.

To condemn something because it’s “unnatural” is as poor of an argument as it is to support a product merely because it’s “natural.”

To condemn something because it’s “unnatural” is as poor of an argument as it is to support a product merely because it’s “natural.”

The same line of thinking is used by those against GMO-infused meats and vegetables.

Here in the heartland, farmers are keen on genetically modified corn, wheat and soybeans. Since farming began, scientists have been looking for ways to produce hardier crops that grow in less time. And yes, they are safe. Perhaps even safer than before because of the reduced need for insecticides and herbicides.

Pediatricians use the same logic with vaccines, telling anxious parents that the vaccine allows the body’s natural immune response to create protections without causing illness.

History proves them right. Vaccines are the success story of modern medicine, eradicting the disastrous, and sometimes lethal, effects of tetanus, whooping cough, small pox, diptheria, etc. 

But science will forever be the bogeyman.

So parents — thinking they are protecting their children from “unnatural” vaccines — forego the recommended regime. And with time, an area can lose the protection of what is called herd immunity. 

For the most part, Americans have created herd immunity for measles, mumps, polio and chickenpox from years of routine vaccinations. That way enough of the population is protected so that those who have not received the vaccinations rarely come in contact with the viruses. This keeps their spread in check. 

But when enough people in a community are not vaccinated, they lose that protection. Such was the case just last year when a teenager infected with measles visited Disneyland in Southern California as well as other sites and spread it to dozens of others.

Considered eliminated in 2000, measles is on the rise because of the anti-vax movement. In 2019, more than 1,200 cases of measles were reported, the most in almost 30 years. It is one of the leading vaccine-preventable causes of death. 

BECAUSE THEY save lives, vaccinations are required in our local school districts. We appreciate that stance.

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is 70,000 — the highest in the world — with more than 1.2 million cases. 

A vaccine can’t come too soon.

— Susan Lynn


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